Creating OER Awareness at UVic

The University of Victoria has assembled a team of passionate faculty and students to create awareness for open educational resources (OER) within the field of teaching, learning, and scholarship. We are excited to be part of their success story, contributing to their effort via the BCcampus Open Education Sustainability Grant for Institutions.

Post by the BCcampus editorial team

Internally, we demonstrate our commitment to open educational resources (OER) on a daily basis. Our teams are always on the hunt for ways to improve what we’re doing, add more to our collection, and find opportunities to bring OER to people across the province, so it gives us great pleasure to see other institutions create plans and activities to develop an open ecosystem for their campus. The Open Hub at the University of Victoria (UVic) is a great program led by a brilliant team. 

“We want to develop the Open Hub as the place to go,” said Dr. Valerie Irvine, co-director of the Technology Integration and Evaluation (TIE) Research Lab and educational technology professor at UVic. “Creating an open hub gives users a common place, where they can find stakeholders sharing the information and resources they need to improve their teaching and learning: workshops, grants from places like BCcampus, online events, conferences, important articles, or anything that might help. At the same time, this single location helps develop a culture of open.” 

“The Open Hub isn’t focused on access to OER; it is awareness of OER that’s important right now,” shared Inba Kehoe, scholarly communication librarian at UVic. “When you build awareness, the access slowly flows through. Once faculty and educators find it, adopting is the next step, and then ideally, they’ll start adapting – or creating – OER. That’s where we need to start building capacity.”

Changing Capacity

“There’s capacity in terms of support, but that capacity is shaped by the culture and the demand,” said Valerie. “If everyone is flooding to teach in a learning management system (LMS) in a closed way, using closed publisher-created resources, then that will create staff support around the closed LMSs. In the open system support world, it’s crickets. If we get the culture going and show our colleagues innovative cases and the benefits of using open tools to support teaching and learning as an alternative – or even alongside the LMS – if there’s interest and more people start moving away from the closed options, the collective voice gets louder and then resources follow. As the demand increases, we expect to see resources reallocated on campus.”

“One of our concerns with open is the librarians do a lot to promote open access research, open textbooks, and open journals, while the teaching and learning centres have a different focus,” said Inba. “Their hands tend to be full supporting learning management systems, pedagogy, and how to teach online. Open is about getting support from multiple stakeholders.”

Developing a Culture of OER

“As the open principle pervades all aspects of university life, such as research, teaching, service, and community outreach, a coordinated effort through collaboration is required to be successful to connect the distinct offices of research, teaching, library, systems, and other stakeholders,” shared Valerie. “The UVic Open Hub will not only curate resources but foster a community of practice that builds synergy and momentum for engaging locally and globally.”

“We are funding people with this project,” said Valerie. “Our goal will be to have a graduate student representative in each faculty on campus to act as an advocate, to connect with resources, and to hopefully have an active role on council agendas. They will be there to amplify what’s going on — especially the teaching and learning shifts that we are trying to create through open and OER — and ideally, awaken other champions.

“It’s expensive to fund a grad student rep in every faculty, so if there are donors out there who would like to top us up, as an exemplar or a showcase for others to follow, we will all benefit from that. We’re planning to have an advocate in each faculty, with our central support and all the players who will connect. It’ll be a collaborative move, and we’re excited to see it coming together.”

Student Voices

“We have support from the students,” said Inba. “On their first round of UVic grants, the undergraduate student society started us off with $16,000, more than any department on campus contributed. They’re behind us, and they want us to get going, and we’re grateful to have them as a partner for the Open Hub.”

Via BCcampus, we’ve previously shared stories about the UVic Student Society and their efforts to raise awareness for OER on campus through the #TextbookBroke social media campaign.

Strategic Framework

The Open Hub was made possible through the UVic Strategic Framework Impact fund, a grant program designed to support innovative projects. The new Open Hub brings value to students and faculty at UVic by aligning with the existing priorities and strategies of the university, including:

  • Cultivate an extraordinary academic environment 
  • Advance research excellence and impact 
  • Intensify dynamic learning 
  • Foster respect and reconciliation
  • Sustainable futures 
  • Engage locally and globally

Notable Quote(s):

“We are very excited to see the UVic team take this opportunity to really promote teaching and learning through a lens of open educational resources. The benefits to faculty, staff, and students are underutilized, but through intelligent projects like the UVic Open Hub, we are eager to see more people adopt and adapt these high-quality resources.”

– Amanda Coolidge, director, Open Education, BCcampus

“The means of communication should be held by the public; the very basis of how we connect should be a public utility. That principle we are trying to bring to research and scholarship.”

– Dr. John Willinsky, #TieTalk at the University of Victoria

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The featured image for this post (viewable in the BCcampus News section at the bottom of our homepage) is by cottonbro from Pexels